President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has decreed the appointment of his deputy chief of staff, Mohammad Haroon Chakhansuri, as the deputy minister for political affairs and Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs. The same presidential decree has further ordered that the deputy for political affairs who replaced Idrees Zaman shall also lead the ministry’s reform process while keeping in view the quality improvement, professionalism, and efficiency while, ironically, he himself isn’t seemingly appointed based on merit. In a remarkable twist of irony, Chakhansuri, holding a master’s degree in Public Administration, has no relevant experience in diplomacy and international relations as he has mostly served in rural development and media-related positions.
This is while the president always claims of cementing the foundation for reform by dismissing the aging old guard and replacing them with the highly educated Afghan youth. Claiming to be working for organizational rejuvenation, a blind eye, however, shouldn’t be turned towards the principle of meritocracy. Moreover, almost all of President Ghani’s cabinet has remained in the acting capacity in his more than the 5-year term in the office – meaning none of them was able to gain the vote of confidence from the parliament throughout the period. In a recent happening, a couple of weeks ago, the Wolesi Jirga put on hold the budget of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce and said the Acting Commerce Minister Ajmal Ahmady’s signature was no longer valid after he was summoned twice but did not appear before the lower house. But he has still not conceded his power and is continuing in his job like nothing happened – perhaps he is being strongly supported by President Ghani. Although everybody lends weight to the influential class of educated or able people, they should be selected based on merit and the hiring process should be competitive and in compliance with the accepted norms and standards. Given his experience, Chakhansuri would have served well in other capacities and would have been a great deputy minister in the ministries of agriculture or rural rehabilitation. These demagogic speeches and ironical appointments carried out by President Ghani resemble a monopoly of power and have dictatorial qualities to them. They do make one wonder that is diplomacy the same as a mediocre shopping store which could be handled by everybody? The government should translate its claims of ‘assigning work to the eligible’ into practice. Meanwhile, this generation’s youth should decline job offers in fields where they are illiterate and must let the country be steered towards the proper development path where everybody serves in the right capacity.